President Barack Obama's Democrats have lost another Senate seat in America's Deep South to a Republican. Bill Cassidy has beaten Democrat Mary Landrieu in a runoff poll a month after the main US midterm elections.
Cassidy's win on Saturday handed the Republicans their 54th seat in the 100-member Senate, nine more than before the November 9 poll.
That enabled the conservatives to reclaim Congress' upper chamber and left President Obama facing Republican majorities in both the Senate and the House of Representatives.
Cassidy, a medical doctor, took about 56 percent of Saturday's ballot, about 13 percent ahead of Landrieu, according to tallies. Analysts pointed to a stronger turnout by "whiter, older" voters in Louisiana.
In November's first round, Landrieu had secured 42 percent to Cassidy's 41 percent, but not a majority, requiring Saturday's second round.
Landrieu at odds with Obama on Keystone
Landrieu's loss leaves Obama's Democrats without a single Senate seat in America's Southern states. The three-term incumbent, who chaired the Senate's Energy Committee, had lobbied for the long-delayed and controversial Keystone XL pipeline, which Obama opposed.
The project, which will tap Canada's oil sands and deliver raw fuel to the Gulf Coast's long-established oil and gas industry, is popular with Republicans but drew little support among Democrats nationwide for Landrieu's campaign.
Cassidy jobs proponent
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said Louisiana's new senator would be a "champion for policies that create jobs and grow the economy, especially building the Keystone Pipeline."
Voters had "once again" rejected Obama policies that had resulted in "higher health care costs and job-killing regulations," Priebus said.
Landrieu highlights recovery work
Landrieu, who was first elected in 1997, applauded the work of Louisiana Democrats in dealing with catastrophes, including Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil spill. Her brother is mayor of New Orleans, the state's largest city.
"It has been nothing but a joy to serve this state for over 34 years," Landrieu told her supporters in New Orleans. She was referring to her political career start in 1980 in the Louisiana state legislature.
House recount awaited in Tucson
In Congress' lower chamber, the House of Representatives, the Republicans will hold at least 246 seats, compared to 188 Democrat seats, when it convenes in January.
Still awaited is an automatic recount in Tucson, Arizona, where Democrat Representative Ron Barber trails Republican challenger Martha Sally by some 200 votes.
If McSally wins the recount, the Republicans would have 247 House seats.
ipj/mkg (AP, AFP, Reuters)